All posts by Christopher Merle

Irish Folk at its Best with the “Voice of Cork” Mr. Jimmy Crowley & Dublin’s newest export the Mr. Stephen Leeson:

Irish Folk at its Best with the “Voice of Cork” Mr. Jimmy Crowley & Dublin’s newest export the Mr. Stephen Leeson:

Music lovers are in for a real special magical treat this Thursday 12th of July when two very different but fantastic Irish Folk Singer/Songwriters Jimmy Crowley and Stephen Leeson come together in a production of “Irish Folk at its Best” for one night only, at The Civic Theatre, Tallaght, Co Dublin. Performance commences at 8pm with special guest Mick Dunne, Tickets for the event are €16, €12 concession and are available from the theatre or through their box office on 01 462 7477.

Click on image for larger poster

Known as the “Voice of Cork”, legendary singer/songwriter/storyteller Jimmy Crowley has been a central figure in the Irish Folk Scene since the enthusiastic reception of his debut album “The Boys of Fairhill” in 1977 which spreads over four generations.

“An uncorked bottle of delight overflowing with good spirits, effervescent vocals and brimfull of good bouzouki and guitar playing.”Dirty Linen.

Every album Jimmy Crowley has recorded and produced has been imbued with an excitement and autonomy; has challenged conventions and has been totally different from its predecessor and his new album “Irish Eyes” is no different.

After an extensive tour of the US Jimmy Crowley jetted back to his beloved Ireland in early January to release his thirteenth album “Irish Eyes” which breathes an uncommon freshness in jaded classics like Danny Boy, When Irish Eyes are Smiling, Who Put the Overalls in Mrs Murphy’s Chowder and The Isle of Innisfree from the movie “The Quiet Man”, you will be able to catch a glimpse of Crowley magically performing these songs not in the dinner-jacket formulaic style of the classic Irish Tenor nor yet in the unconvincing pecuniary whine of the Showbander; but rather in the relaxed way his hero “Willie Nelson” did the American standards on his Stardust Album and has been successful touring Ireland with the new album receiving tremendous applaud and a lot of national coverage from RTE Radio.

Whilst Jimmy Crowley is best known for his folk/Trad style ballads; on this occasion Jimmy has added the jazz chords suffused with caressing French accordion with the keening lap-steel and the Djanjo inspired guitar putting his own unique style to these beautiful almost forgotten songs.

A stupendous singer, songwriter, storyteller who’s presence lights up a venue the moment he takes to the stage.  With his magical stories which blend effortlessly into his many classic ballads, this well rounded entertainer will brighten up even the gloomiest of days, leaving his audience feel a sense of joy and happiness by the finale of every concert he performs.

Stephen Leeson on the other hand is an extraordinary multi-talented Irish Folk Singer, songwriter, musician who has had a magical journey in his musical career since flying solo.  Best known for his unique voice, his impeccable stage presence and his versatility as a musician, Stephen has toured all over the world and played with some of the best and most well renowned singers/musicians in the folk industry.  His career has had him front man with bands such as: Porter Black, Dublin Legacy and for four years he played and sang with The Dublin City Ramblers.

Having just released his new album “Isle of Hope”, Stephen Leeson is an artist who is receiving great acclamation from some well renowned musicians in the folk industry.  According to Irish Folk Legend Davey Arthur, “Stephen Leeson is one of the nicest young men on the Irish Music Scene today and his debut album “Isle of Hope” will in time assure him his rightful place as one of the new crop of talented ballad singers emerging from Ireland today”.

Last year saw Stephen fulfil the role of special guest with Irish Folk Legends “The Furey’s and Davey Arthur” for a number of gigs in front of a packed audience, with another guest appearance with the wonderful Frances Black in December.

With such a mature, deep, powerful voice which is instilled with emotion coming from such a young man, it is hard to believe what Stephen has crammed into his musical CV in such a short spam.  With an ability to work the stage and captivate his audience, Stephen’s performance leaves an impressionable impact that is not only memorable but special for everyone that has been afforded the opportunity to experience his live shows.

While both artists are extremely looking forward to this performance, it will be a real special/joyous occasion for Dublin’s newest export Stephen Leeson who was born and reared in Tallaght and it will be quite amazing to see him play on his home turf in front of his community who should be extremely proud of his achievements since flying solo in March 2011.

Guaranteed to be a tremendous night of real Irish talent and Irish music at its best, this is a concert that is well worth checking out on a Thursday evening.



Jimmy Crowley’s Cork Folk Club – June 21, 2012

Fresh back from the USA Cork’s legendary Singer/Songwriter/Storyteller Jimmy Crowley will host the Jimmy Crowley’s Cork Folk Club every Thursday in the Windsor LV Cork from 8.30 pm commencing on Thursday 21st of June with a host of special guests and close friends within the folk industry.

Jimmy Crowley has been a central figure in the Irish folk scene since the enthusiastic reception of his debut album The Boys of Fairhill in 1977. With his band Stokers Lodge their mission was to present the street ballads of Cork city complimented by the ornate folk songs of the rural hinterland of Cork and Kerry in an exciting orchestration of uilleann pipes, concertina, autoharp, harmonium, mandolin, bouzouki and guitar in their native accent.  Jimmy Crowley’s Cork Folk Club with be an exciting experience for all music lovers especially those with a passion for folk and traditional music and it will be a pleasure to have Jimmy back in Cork a well renowned figure in the music industry, we anxiously await to see array of spectacular musicians that Jimmy will line up to Special Guest with him on a weekly basis.

“Since I have known Jimmy Crowley, which is quite a while, the qualities which I have admired most in him are his consistency, his integrity, and his ability to adapt and be receptive to all kinds of music, his uniqueness. And for me, he embodies the spirit and voice of Cork and he’s a great singer.” Ronnie Drew

With only 50 limited tickets available the folk club is set in a lovely setting which allows you to get up close and personal with the performers and you can relax in a candle light environment and enjoy the magical sounds of Irish folk music at its best.

Jimmy Crowley Cork Folk ClubEach week not only will you have the privilege of listening to some classic tunes and stories which are instilled with history from Jimmy but Jimmy will also have a special Guest with him on the night and an upcoming new artist to support the event. We are pleased to announce that the extraordinary Cork Singer/Songwriter known as the Gentle Genius Mr Ger Wolfe with be Special Guest with Jimmy Crowley on Thursday 21st of June.

Ger is a musician whose music and lyrics are the very embodiment of the Irish spirit and easily evoke the essence of the Irish character.

Ger Wolfe captures the Irish experience in his songs and gently reminds us of the joys of the rural landscape and the Irish condition. The pleasure of strolling by a river, the beauty of birdsong, the pain of loss, war or emigration, all the basic joys, hurt and wonder of life are touched on in a deep and meaningful, often simple, and always powerful way in Ger’s music. Ger Wolfe is a man who’s genuine passion for nature and the simple things in life has captured the hearts of those who’ve encountered him. (Taken from RTE’s Gentle Genius Forgotten Poet Programme)

In the words of Christy Moore “Ger Wolfe’s songs always raise my spirits”.

Tickets for the event are €10 and are available from the Windsor LV or on the door on the night. Doors open 8pm and show commences at 8.30pm sharp. Definitely a Folk Club not to be missed.

Being a summary of Jimmy Crowley’s exile in America and the realease of his new album, “Irish eyes.”

During the height of the Celtic Tiger dynasty, Jimmy Crowley found himself single and with a Green Card courtesy of the U.S Government in his back pocket. Having released his acclaimed album The Coast of Malibar,  it seemed that what remained of the fraternity of the folk scene was no longer healthy enough to sustain an artist whose spirit was spun from the gregarious loom of the folk revival. Ireland was changing fast but not the way Jimmy Crowley wanted it to change. He became an middle-aged emigrant settling in the, beautiful old town of Dunedin, near Clearwater in Florida. It was a good move from a creative standpoint as new songs began to simmer bearing a  diverse concoction of contemporary plasma from his life in retrospect and from the American experience; songs that will shortly find a home on his next album, Life.

Regular forays to New York to team up with seminal figures like Mick Moloney shaped his American experience, honing and revising hitherto closed concepts of musical forms through an ethnic journey of re-discovery. He was searching for a fresh musical pasture and America seemed to be a place where you could think in an untrammeled fashion at a safe remove from the Irish context. Jimmy struck up a friendship with Mississippi folk musicians Valerie Plested and Don Penzien and another dissident Corkman, singer and actor Máirtín de Cógáin. As Captain Mackey’s Goatskin and Stringband, they played all the major American festivals including Kansas City Irish Fest, Milwaukee, Boston “Icons” festival, Jackson Celtic Festival, N.E Louisiana Celtic Fest and North Texas Irish Festival. The highways and skies of America were well used to the ceaseless meanderings of the Corkman as he plied his profession in his adopted country. In their debut album, Soldiers’ Songs, Captain Mackey’s Goatskin and Stringband tapped in to the power of the ballad as a social document, explored the fortunes and misfortunes of Irish soldiers, caught in the tragedy of the war theatres of history.  Free from the delightful distractions of Ireland, Jimmy finally finished his major ethnographic work, Songs from the Beautiful City, being the first collection of Cork Urban ballads embracing the universal precept of his friend, the late Frank Harte, who deposed that, ”history is written by the victors while the ballads are written by the people.”

This fruitful Tropical exile also teamed Jimmy with influential Californian mandolin player Marla Fibish. Together they recorded The Morning Star, an instrumental album that exclusively staged the double-strung mandolin family instruments like bouzouki, mando-cello, mandolin, mandola and dordán, exploring their interesting if recent role in Irish music.

Influenced by the sizzling potpourri of American music; from Brazilian Bossa Nova, through jazz standards, Motown, Old Tymey, Outlaw country music to Texas Swing, Crowley was beginning to forge a resolution to a musical dilemma that haunted him. With the exciting extension that America brought to his voice, Jimmy began to experiment with the nostalgic parlour songs of Ireland and Irish America; songs that had been side-lined by the folk revival: the songs of Percy French, Thomas Moore, John McCormac, Delia Murphy, the Flanaghan Brothers, Charlie McGee, Bing Crosby and  Joe Lynch. “The songs our fathers loved,” as the legendary Leo Maguire described these effusions on the famous Waltons’ Sponsored Radio Show.

But Crowley wanted to sing these songs not in the dinner-jacket formulaic style of the classic Irish tenor nor yet in the unconvincing pecuniary whine of the Showbander; but rather  in the relaxed way his hero Willie Nelson did the American standards on his Stardust album. Jimmy wanted to add the jazz chords suffused with caressing French accordion with the keening lap-steel and the Django inspired guitar and make it all come out right.

A chance encounter with Australian jazz guitarist Ian Date brought Jimmy’s concept nearer to fruition. With Ian and his brother Roger on guitars,Ger Harrington on double bass and his old friend and colleague Pat McNamara from East Clare on accordion he found the nucleus of his new band. They recorded Irish Eyes at Donagh Long’s Spain Studios near Baltimore in West Cork. Among lesser known love songs, Crowley breathes an uncommon freshness into jaded classics like Danny Boy, When Irish Eyes are Smiling, Who Put the Overalls in Mrs Murphy’s Chowder and The Isle of Innisfree from the movie, The Quiet Man. The album is supplemented by guest appearances of Mary Black, Tony Davis, John Fitzgerald and Clive Barnes on lap-steel guitar.

Irish Eyes will be launched in Dublin following with a tour of Ireland featuring The Blue Macushlas, the band that Jimmy has formed for this exciting divergence from his folk repertoire. The  Blue Macushlas are Ian Date on guitar, Pat McNamara on accordion, Brian Crowley, Jimmy’s nephew on bass and Jimmy on vocals, folk guitar and bouzouki. Details of launch and tour to be announced soon.


Carol Rice, manager

The Morning Star — Jimmy Crowley and Marla Fibish

Jimmy Crowley and Marla Fibish are a unique and compelling duo in the world of Irish music. Jimmy, the bard of Cork, has been a central figure in the Irish folk scene since the enthusiastic reception of his debut album The Boys of Fairhill in 1977. He is well known for singlehandedly focusing well-deserved attention on the songs of Cork City at that critical time in the folk revival. Jimmy is also a brilliant song-writer, writing new music that has now entered the body of great music to come out of Cork. Marla is a San Francisco native and a long-time feature of the Bay Area Irish music scene. She is known for her uniquely vibrant and driving playing on mandolin — an instrument not always associated with dynamic playing! They joined forces in 2010, on one of Jimmy’s rare trips to the bay area. They launched a CD together – The Morning Star — in April 2011, unlike any other, featuring Irish music played only on double strung instruments — mandolin, mandola, bouzouki, mandocello, and Dordan– a big bass bouzouki. Jimmy and Marla are a compelling combination in performance. Their sound evolves from their shared love for the mandolin-family instruments. They take delight in the playful dialogue between their instruments, filled with happy harmonies, frivolous fills and colorful counterpoint. Jimmy sings from his extensive song repertoire and Marla pulls out her favorite jigs, reels, and party pieces to deliver a sparkling variety of traditional music, songs, stories and good humor.

Lots more information, including sample tracks from Marla and Jimmy’s CD at

Praise for The Morning Star

“Absolutely stunning…a thorough winner.” – LiveIreland

“Great recording by two of the best; a must have CD for any mandolin or bouzouki player in Irish music.” — Dennis Cahill

“Unique and delightful…a joyful romp” –Fiddlefreak Folk Music Blog

“A must for all who are interested in the mandolin family of instruments, in Irish music in general, and in exquisite duet playing.” –Folkworks


Audio Samples


Humours of Bandon